Sunblind Lion - Observer

EricEric USA
edited August 1 in year-1976

While these guys were never in the same category as Fireballet, Ethos or Starcastle, 'Observer' is half way decent and worthy of any collection that leans towards American progressive rock rarities.

Sunblind Lion - Observer
ARTIST: Sunblind Lion
ALBUM: Observer
LABEL: Homegrown
SERIAL: 1147
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: CD's available from website (check URL below)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA Flag
LINEUP: Dave Steffen - lead guitar, vocals * Steve Olschesky - bass * Duane Abler - keyboards, synthesizers, vocals * Dave Hassinger - percussion * Keith Abler - guitars, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ride The Wind * 02 Cat Eyes * 03 Jamaican Holiday * 04 (Make It) Last Another Day * 05 Games Of The Lonely * 06 Spring Essence * 07 Observer * 08 Amy's Song * 09 On A Night

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

From the land of beer and brats Plymouth, Wisconsin's Sunblind Lion released two studio albums and one live platter before calling it a day. Formed in 1974, the Lion developed a big local following before recording their first album at 'Sound 80' Studios in Minneapolis where Bob Dylan would put to tape part of his 'Blood On The Tracks' LP and Cat Stevens, Prince and Michael Johnson would later use to their advantage.

'Observer' sold well locally and gigs with Styx, Blue Oyster Cult and Boston followed, but outside their stronghold in the upper Midwest, Sunblind Lion like so many of their ilk didn't exactly set the world on fire. Since their break-up, all three albums have become collectible although in my opinion due to its progressive rock direction 'Observer' is the one to seek out.

The Songs

Shades of Uriah Heep colour the opener 'Ride The Wind' with red hot keyboard work and gothic riffing. It's a great start but the hard rock euphoria doesn't last long I'm afraid. While not in the same horrendous league as fellow Wisconsinites Babyface (what is?) both 'Cat Eyes' and 'Jamaican Holiday' are atrocious and unforgivable, yet supposedly were big hits on Wisconsin radio. Go figure.

Both sound like third rate Seals & Crofts aping Michael Murphy-era REO to my ears and all I can do is shake my head in disbelief. Fortunately, '(Make It Last) Another Day' saves the day and the side with a dreamy keyboard dominated track a bit like early Gary Wright with touches of Kansas which prepares us for side two and where Sunblind Lion come into their own.

Here the Kansas sound really takes hold, but I am also reminded of the obscure Minneapolis progressive group This Oness and their 'Surprize' album in both the vocals and instrumental bits. All three cuts 'Games Of The Lonely', 'Spring Essence' and 'Observer' are quality progressive that could only have been created in Middle America circa the mid 70's.

In Summary

Sunblind Lion still play shows in and around their home turf of Southern Wisconsin and their web site is filled with photos and downloads. While these guys were never in the same category as Fireballet, Ethos or Starcastle, 'Observer' is half way decent and worthy of any collection that leans towards American progressive rock rarities.


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